Design Consult Pre-Design Concept Design Design Development Construction Documents Interior Building Details Interior Design Construction Observation Additional Services

The beauty of this specialized full-service architectural collabrative is you have three tiers of services (Low -Tier 1 - basic builder package, Medium - Tier 2, or High -Tier 3 - Couture) from which to choose regardless of the scope of your project. Couture architectural services are part of service tiers 2 and 3 and involve us more in the design control of elegantly designed Exterior and Interior Details, Structural design, Lighting plans, and Interior Architecture. **All Tiers result in developing you a set of "Permit Plans" by the end of our Construction Document Phase. 

Separate from the Tiers, are Additional Services (like Interior Design consultation) and is offered with or without the architectural services. Design Consultations are also available at a special hourly rate to the public (see Design Consult below) and are a separate service altogether where you can hire us for up to 2 hours only. 

Click on the Service or Design Phases below to learn more about what we can offer you and our process. Also see below a description of our Tier Level of Services.

Typical design phases:

Design Consult
Concept Design
Design Development
Construction Documents
Interior Architecture
Interior Design
Construction Observation 
Additional Services


Since different owners need different services, we give our clients the option to contract one design phase at a time on an hourly basis.  This flexible "a la carte" approach to building your own service is one of our hallmarks. However, those hours add up and always fall within one of our three distinctive Tier Levels of Service Our fees are charged by the hour, but our Tiers are estimates of what our fees could total up to (as measured against a  percentage of construction cost).  These percentages are based on data calculated from 15 years of analysis of our completed projects and, interestingly, match national averages for architectural fees. A business meeting is required to better review our Tier Levels and to establish which Tier Level of Service might be right for you.  Our clients usually declare their "Tier Level" before we start Construction Documents Phase (since at that time we all better know what the project IS, and what it will take to get it to the detailed level you desire or need).

Large to Small size projects - Tier 1 - (4 - 8.5%) (example:  a master bath project will usually be the higher percentage due to design time versus a smaller square footage project divided against the construction cost.  A whole house will be in the lower % per tier.)

                                       - Tier 2 - (7 - 13%)

                                       - Tier 3 - (10 - 17%)

Rule of thumb in planning your future project, you should estimate at least 10% fees when budgeting - just to be safe!! 

Below is a portion of a letter where I am replying to a good friend of mine who was asking for advice for her daughter.  The newlyweds were purchasing a house in Atlanta and wanted to do an addition/renovation project and don't know where (or how) to start the process.  Here is what I was advising and which really holds true for anyone thinking of doing a project!! :

              ...............  "On corrie’s house…how exciting!!!  I could ask around for some names of a residential architect (that is what would be good to use) for a “concept” master plan……

What they need to do is first gather good information from 4 sources…read below.

  1.  Definitely set a dollar figure for construction cost budget that would keep the cost of the house within the neighborhood “market pricing” for a comparable home.  Ask the realtor to help create that budget number that is reasonable for adding value to that house (in that neighborhood) for resale price within the next 4-6 years to sale.
  2. Then, while they are talking to mortgage lenders….compare the monthly mortgage cost for the house as is, to the cost of the house with the improvements. Discuss with lender how/process to get a loan for those improvements.  Basically- the bottom line here is - what you can add to the house per how much more can you stomach spending monthly with the money that is in your pocket!   “How are you going to pay for the construction?” is the real question to focus on at this point. 
  3. Now consider how you can phase the work to be done or designed in smaller chucks. But I would start with a “concept” master plan.  Then break the master plan up into priorities of which is most needed first and that is affordable to do.   DO review the maximum construction budget PLUS FEE with the architect, and the phase ideas you have and how much there should be spent on each phase.  The architect now should be able to tell you how “real” your dream costs are versus real construction cost you should spend in that neighborhood.  ***note: realtors think construction can be done for 1/2 of the cost.  Remember they are “sales” people.  But, do pay heed to that dollar figure they feel can be resold in that neighborhood!!!!!
  4. Then ask the realtors for some names of “reasonable” residential architects referred by the realtors… "reasonable" I mean not the “name brand” architect, but one that has great design capability and is known for realistic cost numbers.  As a rule of thumb an architect should cost on average 10% of construction cost (larger projects can be lower %, smaller projects will go higher % - all due to how you divide hours to do the design by the square feet or const costs of the project and the percentages work out that way.  Also, the percentage floats from low to high per how much service you want/need from the architect.-  ie..just a “builder set of plans” or a set of plans with loads of details, custom designed details like the bookshelves,  etc.).  I charge only by the hour for everything….but I use this percentage as a “guideline” for how much the hourly cost can add up to.  These are national averages I am quoting here. 
  5. Remember - Young architects will typically be fun, exciting, etc….but….they do not have a real good grasp of construction cost….that takes YEARS of experience.  Also, a commercial architect does not have a good grasp of residential construction cost and codes…very different fields of experience!  An experienced residential architect will have a more realistic  view of costs, and the experienced architect usually has lived themselves through growing a family, entertaining on many levels, how a house needs to multifunction to grow with you over time……and how to get the most BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!   Never be embarrassed to discuss money figures with your architect, or budget, or how they charge.  Re-ask when it is not clear, all costs, etc.   The good thing is Corrie is a lawyer….that profession best understands how we charge than any other since they charge close to the same way….but not exactly…..she should discuss the “differences”.  All architects do not charge the same…..dig deep for the differences and take the time to understand it very clearly.  If an architect can not explain it so that you understand it easily…..then keep asking….or walk away.
  6. Now the fourth resource, they should also talk to a contractor too! Get names from the realtor and architect here too!  You can talk to a contractor before, after, or with the architect for the first time.  The contractor will be free to talk to.  The architect should cost (as in our Design Consults) if they are discussing design ideas, but, not if you are only speaking about feasibility of building.   The contractor also will give you a low cost…..since he does not know to what level of design or your (as yet) unselected finish materials (like exactly which countertops, types of cabinets, etc.)  and..... he would like the job too!  Expect what he says will go up 10 – 15% from his ballpark price for your planning purposes.

Now, with talking to the realtor, mortgage lender, architect, and contractor…… have good information of how to plan what should and should not be done to the house that you can afford, and when to do it.  Do not go crazy because you will get different numbers from each of these 4 resources…..remember each is giving you info from their perspective….and all of those are valuable........ and so is this initial process!!!

*********One more thing…..definitely ask if there are any existing plans previously drawn of the house…..that is worth easily around $1000 - $3000 saved!    Also!!!!! – make sure you get a copy of the physical survey at the closing!!!!  Do not let the lawyer forget to give you that along with your Deeds and Covenants….I see this 50% of the time happening.  If you want to add on to a house….you have to have that document!!!!!!!!! And trying to find it after a few years as to who did the survey…good luck! 

This is enough info for now!   Hope all goes well.  ******Go to my website to read in the Services section about the Phases of Design, what a Design Consult could be (not all architects offer this or can do it like I do it), and for other things they can learn about architects.  That would help them to get into the “language” of the profession before talking to all of these professionals.  My best to them!



Lindsay Daniel provides residential design services to Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding communities.